Sailing Lession: What to do when your boat engine controls fail?

Sailing Lession: What to do when your boat engine controls fail?

Belive it or not but this faliure is not very rare as you might think. It happend to me once, but I witnessed a lot of faliures on other boats. So what is it all about? Read the whole sailing lession to find out.

System description

The control levers are connected via two strips with your boat’s engine. Each of the strips is running in a special, very strong bouden and both end with a strong attachment mechanism made out of stainless material. The faliure is likely to occur when one of the final elements is to be broken due to oxidation. This faliure occures very rarely becouse of strand break. Every engine needs two cables because on operates a shift in the ship’s gear clutch and the other regulates the amount of fuel flowing inside the engine and with this  the engine speed.

Controls don’t seem to work any more

If a faliure occures there is allways at least one of the commands that failed. Usualy it’s only one. Gas lever or  control lever for controling the direction of rotation of the propeller. If we lose our Gas controls the situation is not so critical, because we still have the abbility of traveling back and forth, but we are very slow at it, but still fast enough in order to land our boat safely. The major problem arises if the control of transmission fails. Especially since most of the gears are set that when you want your boat to move backwards you move your lever backward and so you push the gear lever inside the engine backward. But when you want to move forward you push your lever forward and so the gear lever inside the engine moves forward and that is where the most faliures happen. Especially because when skippers try to precisely land their boats to the pier they shift gears a lot. When a skipper changes gears fast they do it with great ammount of force involved and so if any of the control lever parts are weak they won’t hold that great force and will fail. In this case, the skipper has no solution to the problem. Not only that he will not stop the boat, it will continue to move backwards with the engine still in the ‘back gear’ due to the shift lever and a powerful blow from stern or bow to the pier will be inevitable. If skipper has a bit of luck and he was landin with a moderate speed the damage won’t be so big and won’t endanger further trip. If the speed was too high, the blow will make a large hole gaping in the stern or boaw of the boat.

What to do?

Sailing Lession: What to do when your boat engine controls fail?If a disaster has occurred as described in the case, it is best to call for help if it’s possible. If you’re far from the civilized world, or your control strand broke in the middle of the sea you shouldn’t give up. It is still possible to safely sail to the first major port where you can replace a damaged cable. What to do to remain mobile? At sea it’s very important that your boat is capable of sailing. Therefore it’s time for improvisation. Let’s suppose that the gas controls fai. The engine in this case remains in neutral. Of course we want to regulate the gas, so we openwhe the engine room and find where the mentioned cable is attached to the engine. If the cable end is broken we have to remove it. The method depends on attachment. The main options are to remove a screw or pin. Removal is easy. The best to do then is to attach a rope to your throttle mechanism that will help with the throttle control.  We then use the attached rope to regulate the engine speed. Another and more complicated example is the damage of the wire for transmission control. This cable is also linked with end part and attached to the engine gear clutch. I suggest a temporary solution to open the engine compartment on the side where the gear lever is located, putting on gloves to avoid burns, remove the cable from the lever if necessary and then move the lever arm in the desired direction. Usually a shift towards the bow will put the engine in forward gear while a shift towards the stern will put it in the backward gear. Of course this is only a temporary solution that will bring you to the nearest major port, where you can buy a new cable, or call the serviceman. During the landing there should be a excellent communication between the skipper and other crew members that will operate the transmission. They must therefore open all the doors and rear cabin windows and the skipper must loudly jel what he wants to be done. If the engine noise is very loud, it is wise to put another member of the crew in the cabin at the entrance to the engine compartment.

You also might want to check the saling lession about sailing in fog and what to do when water leaks!

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